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Need Urgent Advice on Condo Board Rules/Laws - Getting SCREWED!

cassius

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I'm in desperate need of advice on what to do about the situation I'm in.. Please bare with me.

My brother and I own a condo townhouse in Pickering. Late last week we received a letter from our lawyer stating that our condo has gone into receivership. Surprised by this, we've obviously looked into it. In a letter to our lawyer from our condo board, we were told that they initiated receivership in March 2010 for payments not made that month. We checked our bank records and sure enough we did pay that month. After we pushed the lawyers of the condo board for more details, they told us that it wasn't actually March 2010 that we missed the payment, even though they initially said it was. As it turns out, there was a missed condo payment ($240) in May 2008. Of course neither myself nor my brother were even aware that we had missed a payment. We're not sure why they didn't retry the transaction at a later date. On top of this, the condo corp put a stop payment on all our automated payments starting in August 2010. We don't know why they did that, but my guess is that it took from March 2010 to August 2010 for the receivership to go through...

Anyways, when our lawyer contacted us about this we were told that we have until December 29th 2010 to pay the outstanding condo fees or our tenants will be locked out and the place will go up for sale that day. As a result, we have the $240 (now $310 incl interst), $1300 condo fees (August to December) and they've hit us with another $5000+ in lawyer's fees for the condo corporation. So we'll need to pay out about $6300 by December 29th or we're screwed.

We were never informed about any of this, though apparently the condo corp did send notice to our house in Pickering. We're guessing the tenant just tossed out the notices unopened.

I guess my questions are:
1. Is this legal for them to do?
2. Does anyone know enough about laws in Ontario about this to point me in the right direction? We certainly can't afford to pay for our own lawyer now plus the $6300.
3. Any other thoughts on this situation?

I realize ultimately we did miss that one payment of $240 in May 2008, but we're wondering why (since we pay by PAP) they didn't retry the transaction and how a $240 bill can end up turning into $240+$5000 in lawyer fees.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 

DSC

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You say: "I realize ultimately we did miss that one payment of $240 in May 2008, but we're wondering why (since we pay by PAP) they didn't retry the transaction and how a $240 bill can end up turning into $240+$5000 in lawyer fees."

Under the Act or the By-Laws of your Condo you are probably obliged to inform the Condo Corporation of your address so if you did not do so and if they have been sending you mail which has never reached you it could explain SOME legal costs but it seems excessive that any Corporation would spend $5000 to obtain a debt of $240, particularly from someone who was, I assume, continuing to pay the monthly fees. In our Corporation we would credit the payments you had made and you would thus be 30-days overdue. (Your Corporation might also have a late payment fee.) I assume the Corporation has a Manager so I strongly suggest you get in touch with them, pay the $240 and demand a full accounting of the $5000. If you are not satisfied you should go to the Board as it is they who are finally in charge.
 

cassius

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Thanks, Catapult and DSC!

So according to the Condominium Act they're within their rights to do this. Seems heavy-handed for a single missed payment. Especially since we've learned that the outstanding balance from May 2008 was carried over from month to month (each payment applied to the previous month instead of current) as each successive payment was withdrawn. So really, according to the condo corp's own books, we were simply 1-month behind right up until the month they started this process of putting a lien on it.

... but it seems excessive that any Corporation would spend $5000 to obtain a debt of $240, particularly from someone who was, I assume, continuing to pay the monthly fees.
We most certainly were. That said, THEY stopped taking payments from our account from August 2010 to November 2010 (5 months after they started the process of the lien). We're not 100% sure why they stopped deducting the funds, but it probably has something to do with registering the lien or getting the lawyers involved. Also, they have decided to withdraw the December payment, so we have no idea what they're doing.
In our Corporation we would credit the payments you had made and you would thus be 30-days overdue. (Your Corporation might also have a late payment fee.) I assume the Corporation has a Manager so I strongly suggest you get in touch with them, pay the $240 and demand a full accounting of the $5000. If you are not satisfied you should go to the Board as it is they who are finally in charge.
I'll definitely be getting ahold of the condo corporation's manager. But we've been told (well, by the condo's lawyers) that we cannot pay the $240 or any other outstanding fees to the condo corporation directly and that it MUST be paid to their lawyers, including all those other nasty fees. Apparently the condo corp can't accept the money once the condo has a lien on it? Perhaps that's just the lawyers lying to our faces to be sure they get their full amount?
 

DSC

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You should also certainly talk to your Board - the Manager works for the Board (actually for the Corporation) and this is certainly something that the Board should be aware of and can deal with. They may want their lawyer involved but 'the buck stops with them." (PS It is normal, I think, for any lien costs to be charged back to the Unit owner responsible but liens do not cost $5000.
 

cassius

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Just to update this thread, I spoke with the Condo Corp management company and they have informed me that their lawyers paid our outstanding condo fees, from August to November, and told the condo corp that we would be paying. So the condo corp, seeing things in good order, began taking the PAP for condo fees starting in December again. So we'll need to pay the lawyers directly it seems. The management company refused to discuss anything else saying we need to speak with the lawyers. I also haven't been able to get hold of anyone on the condo board. :(
 

cassius

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DSC,

You seem pretty knowledgeable about these things. Are you a member of a condo board or corporation?

We're looking to attain copies of historical meeting Minutes, but we're being told that they cannot be faxed or emailed to us (we must visit the condo corp's office) and that they will first need to remove names and unit numbers before allowing us to view them. Is this a normal practice? I was expecting to be able to view the Minutes unaltered.

Thanks again.
 

Tranquillity

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Cassius,

Removing personal information is required by law, but withholding information is not allowed. Did you get access to them? Boards are responsible for many issues that may be of criminal or sensitive nature. That's why it's not allowed for the board to spread rumors or even show meeting minutes that include specific units.

These cases are rare though, we're talking excessive noise, unpaid bills or domestic violence. Smaller issues would be handled by the management instead of the board.
 

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